Friday, February 26, 2016

Throwing Around the Word "Refugee"

We had an amazing opportunity to share at an English class for refugees. 

Since the beginning of the windup of this political go-around, I quickly realized that there were two main issues that cared about: abortion and refugees/immigrants. So long after the press is done talking about it, I am stilling thinking about it. 

Before Alan's picture I was pretty ignorant about refugees in general, and it made me realize I needed to change that.  After posting on Facebook about refugees and immigrants, I quickly realized that people I cared about strongly disagreed with me. I needed to go deeper. If this was an issue worth talking about, worth caring about, worth arguing about, then it was an issue worth doing something about. And I didn't just want to throw money at the issue- I wanted to become more personally involved. 

Enter Em, a friend through a friend who works with refugees in Indiana. Her organization was the one that was going to help resettle the family from Syria before the Indiana Governor protested. And so Em gave us the opportunity to meet some refugees and share with them about Brazil. As soon as you meet refugees in person, the issues change. The discussion changes. We throw around the word "refugee" so easily, but when it is a roomful of people, it turns from issues to faces. From arguments to stories. From walls to bridges. Because you have brought a whole big complex abstract discussion down to a smile and a "how do you do?" And that is necessary

So we spoke. And passed out candy. And talked about culture and how Brazilians greet with a kiss on both cheeks. And one man came up to me afterward and pressed $10 into my hand, saying he wanted to give to the children in Brazil. He fled his country for fear of his life, has four children, is learning a new language, and starting over--and his heart is to give to my kids. I was overwhelmed. 

But, you may say, not all refugees are like that one group you met. True. But what if they are? Can we hold that question in our hands as well? Have you met them? Have you met one? 

Ana is 8 Months

This past month we have finished our larger trips, so are closer to home. Ana Sofia got her first cold (but is doing better), Caid was able to go to a counseling seminar, and we were able to meet with many amazing people and share about Brazil in many different contexts.
One neat conversation was about changing language and choosing words that reflect our heart in the matter. For example, instead of calling Ana "half white, half black," (or "other"), we instead say she is "double." Half so easily implies that she isn't as good as someone who is "whole," or that something is missing--when in reality, she has double the amount of culture--triple (American, Brazilian, Jamaican), in fact. 

Coming home on furlough, or "home assignment" this time is different for me than it ever has been in the past. A lot of that is because now I have a daughter--and she is a constant that comes with me, and so much of my life, my time, my energy is doing the same things--taking care of her. In a way, this has made things easier on me. It is also really amazing to see her interact with my family and friends in the USA--memories for life. 
It is one thing to be a single missionary. You are making the choices for yourself. It is one thing to be married and both pray and know this is what God has chosen for you both. It is another thing to be a missionary with children, because you are making the decisions for them. I am sure there will be times in Ana Sofia's life that she doesn't want to be an MK (missionary kid) or a TCK (third culture kid) or "double:" she will want to just be normal. I hope that phase(s) of her life passes quickly, and that she comes to realize what awesome opportunities she has...but that will be her decision, not mine. 
For now, she is happy getting into everything and putting everything into her mouth. Her crawling skills have increased, and she pulls herself up and bounces her bum, hoping to be given two fingers to hold on to so she can "walk" wherever she wants. I am still hoping she learns to walk in the USA where we have carpets, rather than the tile and cement apartment in Brazil. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Sunday Funday

February is almost over and I am off to the gym--our best health insurance plan:). I had a good conversation with our missions Director, Gary Wright, about single women missionaries: about cultivating conversations about it, and making sure those "out there" are connected with resources and help and understanding and love. I am excited about writing/thinking/talking about it more.
Here is another "to read" book list, because I just can't have enough while I am sitting in Brazil, wondering what to get for my kindle:)
Working with people in poverty is important and challenging. A good look at "the deserving poor"
A great blog post about not posting from some of my favorite people with a strong, true message:).
A big thank you to Perry Reichanadter for some amazing family pictures!!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Funday February

Sunday Funday was church today, as my lil lady is sick (when is it bad enough to go to the doctor?) and I am falling quickly behind. But it has been a busy, wonderful week, and we are thankful.
Finally got these done! 
I also finally wrote the blog about Zika (and having it myself while pregnant).
Next week Caid will be taking this awesome counseling classes--so please keep his health in your prayers, as well as the hour drive each way each day.
I think this (not "one upping") is one of the secrets to re-entry and cross cultural transitions. Can't be learned enough. 
My friend Karianne and I got into an interesting conversation about single vs. married missionaries--and which is the "better investment" when choosing to support a missionary. THIS letter is amazing. 
My feminism comes out with posts like this. What it is like to be woman other places. 

I can't believe Lent is starting this week!!! All my friends and kiddos in Brazil are at church camp or Carnaval celebrations or substitutes...and my good intentions for doing something interesting and insightful for Lent and gone out the window. My two favorite preparation times, Lent and Advent, seem to always fall on the times my family is in transition and traveling. This makes being intentional about 10x harder (and I say to myself, Ana won't remember anything for a other couple years anyways) for family traditions. is something simple enough I think I can handle: reading the Psalms of Ascent during Lent. Join me? God bless you!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Eating Bad Street Food was Worse than Zika

As a missionary serving in Brazil, it is a bit disturbing to have Zika called the next Ebola. Yes, Zika is happening in Brazil. Yes, it is important to understand and pray for. No, it is not time to freak out: bad street food is definitely worse than Zika. 

Caid got Zika soon after we moved to Brazil last year. He had red bumps and felt fatigued. After comparing with pictures on the Internet, I diagnosed him with heat rash: take cold showers, stay out of the sun, and rest more. That same week, some Brazilian friends got the same red bumps. By the next week when I got Zika, the first internet articles about it (in Portuguese) started popping up. I was just relieved it wasn’t heat stroke, because it is really hard to stay out of the sun in Brazil. Caid and I were back to normal after a couple of days. 

There are actually two “new” mosquito viruses going around Brazil: Zika and Chikungunya  . Chikungunya is said to have higher fever, which we didn’t have, so I am assuming we had Zika (bloodwork is really the only way we could have known). We didn't go to the doctor since there isn't any medicine for it: it is like a mild flu that you ignore until the sniffles go away three days later. Most of the people we know in Brazil self-diagnose it as Chikungunya, rather than Zika, when the red bumps and fever come around. So many of the Living Stones kids had it that sometimes I began to wonder if it was just a way to get out of school. 

It was not until months later that they began to connect Zika with Microcephaly. Considering I was 8 months pregnant when I had Zika, I am glad I didn’t know to worry at the time. The truth is, the main problem is we don’t know the connection—or what to do about it . The same thing is true with Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) . We are in limbo, waiting to find out

This past month Zika has become a household name, and some are falling prey to fear. Scary stuff happens, and it is important to be wise and knowledgeable on what is going on.  This is what we can agree on: don't go to Brazil if you are in your first trimester. Try not to get pregnant if you are in Brazil until more information is found out.  

If you are not pregnant, and feel God leading you on a short term mission’s trip to Brazil, don't let fear stop you. Realize that for most Brazilians, leaving is not an option and life goes on. Some Brazilian friends of mine just announced their pregnancy last week. Like all pregnancies, we are excited for them, and will keep their baby’s health in our prayers.  Also, stay away from bad street food—It is worse than Zika. 

*Pictures are not mine (from Google)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Seven Months Old

(Ana Sofia and her cousin Rowan)
This month Ana has grown so much- even just from arriving in Connecticut to when we left, the aunties noticed the changes- she started army crawling and becoming more mobile. She started being able to stand a couple seconds on her own, or "walk" if given two fingers to grab on to. She also became louder and more talkative ("she is now Jamaican" as they put it). 

Coming back to Indy, and then another trip to Illinois, she developed a one leg out crawl that functions quite well. She can now pick up the cheerio (she mastered that at 5.5 months) get the cheerio into her mouth ( she mastered at 6 months) and release it into her mouth ( mastered at 6.5 months). 

I think she is settling into things a bit better, but much to the chagrin of her dad, she is a momma's girl. Since 2 weeks old she slept through the night (waking up once to eat and going right back to sleep) but now she is back to getting up every 2/3 hours. I can almost set my clock by it. Any ideas how to fix that? Please?

She is full of discovery and laughter, and I not only love her, I like hanging out with her too.This month, more than any other, we have seen daily growth and changes and have had to start scampering to keep up. As she eats more solid food and becomes more and more mobile, I have to scramble to keep up and learn how to do things best in the next stage. 

It feels like when she was born, Caid and I had to learn how to do everything for her. Now, and for the rest of her life, we have to learn how to stop doing everything for her and assist her in helping her do it for herself...and then letting it go. Roots and wings: give our children roots and wings. Vlogs are coming soon!